Jenny Slate Brings Out the Best in Tally Schifrin
The actor discusses her character's unexpected return and Girls' impact on feminism.
Was filming your adventures (like bike theft) around New York as fun as it looked?
I don?t like taking physical risks at all. I take a lot of emotional risks, and I don?t feel like I need to get on a bike or a horse or jump off of anything ever. Also, bike riding without any pants on -- I don?t know who rides a bike in a dress. That seems crazy to me. But it was really fun. I also felt like it was a comment on my personality that I had to wear a helmet.
What conversations did you have with Lena Dunham and the writers of Girls about how Tally has changed since her first appearance on the show?
When Lena wrote that character, Tally and Hannah were just out of college, which is a really vulnerable time. The next time we see her, it?s five years later. What is really interesting is that she has been lifted up and anointed, and it really hasn't satisfied her. The identity that she?s cast for herself has ended up becoming something that has hurt her. Because she is so disappointed and she is so lonely and she?s so deeply looking for connection, it forces her to be honest.
Does Tally?s emotional state as she navigates her newly ?anointed? status resonate with you?
I tend to think of my career as a developing body of work, and Tally just doesn?t see it that way. She really has no identity. Her identity becomes her pain, and her embarrassment, and her loneliness. I do sympathize and understand her need to just be really, really honest. Especially when I go up on stage, I think the thing that I?m trying to say to people is, ?This is exactly what I think I?m like -- do you think it?s worth loving me, because I love you and I want to be loved,? and I?m willing to take the risk to get the right answer. At the end of the episode, Tally really gets to that point where she reveals herself.
What do you think the takeaway is from Hannah and Tally?s day together?
It turns out that becoming more mature is not a purification process in any way. It?s just another step down the road. I think that?s the victory at the end of the episode; that these two women -- they really are women now -- while they are different, they both have pretty warm hearts and they end up having a connection that is adult and useful.
How do you think Girls has contributed to the contemporary feminist discourse?
I think that already it has marked a really important time where feminism has hit the mainstream in a way that is useful. Just the fact that it?s not a ?femi-Nazi? dirty word anymore, because of the risk that Lena and Jenni have taken, and because of the joy that they express in taking those risks, I think it?s really important. I?m just really proud to be included in that.